Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2 Nephi 30: 7-8

2 Nephi 30: 7-8:

"And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.  And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth."

Nephi has circled back and is reiterating his earlier prophecy, assuring us that this is the order, these are the priorities and this work is indeed universal.

The scattered Jews will begin to believe in Christ, and as they do they will be gathered again. These will also be among the people destined to become "delightsome" as a result of the Gospel.

Again, we have the reminder of the universal nature of this work. Every nation, kindred, tongue and people will be invited. The invitation is to result in a "restoration of His people upon the earth." That is, the purpose of the creation was to produce God's people. By and large that hasn't happened.

From the rebellion of Adam's children, through the almost universal rebellion at the time of Noah, mankind has been unwilling to become His people. The times when we find a "people of God" upon the earth is the exception, not the rule.

The desire to see Zion return is not the same thing as seeing its return.

I sometimes wonder if people who speak of Zion have any clue of the tremendous gulf between what that will require and who we are as a people. Having a vocabulary is not the same thing as having the heart to produce Zion.

How do people live with one another in peace?  Without any poor among them? While seeking the best interest of all, and without ambition. Why would we believe we can get that great task done in a short effort in our day? There is no precedent living in anything like Zion, in this or the last seven generations.

Having the Gospel understood is the first step, of course. As a group, there is such a poor command of the scriptures that we have some considerable study before us. Passing familiarity with some scriptures is not of much use. They are the standard given to us to help reveal the basis for becoming a covenant people.

I notice how the subject of "calling and election" gets mentioned from time to time.  It would be better to learn about the fundamentals of the Gospel that we are not living than to attempt to understand what lies at the end of the struggle.

Losing ourselves implies something quite distant from the self-centered worry that grows out of not knowing your standing before God. The first step is to pray in sincerity, asking God to soften your heart that you may believe. The steps Nephi followed are described in first few chapters of The Second Comforter. Those steps are not given to us merely to contemplate. They are given for us to follow.

As we see Nephi wrapping up his two books of scripture, he turns to the distant view of a return upon the earth of a "people of God."  We could have been that people. We even fancy ourselves as being likely to be among such a people. But if we lived that kind of life, we would already associate with such beings here, in the flesh. We would know we have part with them, because we would be associating with heaven now, as they will do then.

There is no one else who you need to look to other than the Lord. There is enough revealed in the Book of Mormon to tell you what you must do to become part of His people. You don't need me, or a program, or a leader, other than Christ. He has offered the opportunity for each of us to become part of His people.




Well, onward still....

27 comments:

  1. "I notice how the subject of "calling and election" gets mentioned from time to time. It would be better to learn about the fundamentals of the Gospel that we are not living than to attempt to understand what lies at the end of the struggle."

    Perhaps, but where there is no vision, the people perish. It is the hope kept alive by these grander visions of Zion or having our calling and election made sure that can spur us on to take care of the other things, I believe.

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  2. Denver,
    Not associated with the subject, but I am reading "The Words of Joseph Smith". All through the text in various places it has &c.
    I don't know what that means. It wasn't explained in the Editorial Notes. Can you help?

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  3. Denver,

    You are correct. I worry too much about my standing before the Lord. I have work to do and will get busy doing it. Thank you for the gentle nudge.

    -kind regards

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  4. This post has been interesting. At first glance, it is discouraging. Basically you are telling us, "Good luck with building Zion in your lifetimes. It takes generations. We had our chance and blew it. You're not ready to even understand the concept of Zion, let alone live it."

    Ouch. That can be a bubble burster. Might lead one to say, "Why even bother then? Why the books and this blog? I give up!"

    But then you hint at something. Yes, Zion, the city may be generations away. But we can enjoy the benefits of Zion NOW... ("we would already associate with such beings here, in the flesh. We would know we have part with them, because we would be associating with heaven now, as they will do then.")

    But coming to Zion is not based on following a Church program or a book/blog author and especially not on what I can do of myself.

    The early Saints had a mentality of "If I build it, He will come." Obviously, that didn't work out. But I think the same M.O. exists today. Perhaps I just need to scratch it all and go back to pleading with God to have mercy on me, to soften my heart, so that He may build Zion in me. So that I may see past the mists of darkness as to what the Book of Mormon is really telling me.

    Might be a useful experiment.

    ---Doug

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  5. There may be a correlation between the comments stressing celestial marriage and a strict view of excommunication, relating to the comments of the Savior about divorce. If a very strict attitude towards excommunication is adopted (without the ability to reinstate easily), then the individuals who adopt such views would be compelled by their own reasoning to "put away" their wives. Inevitably, offenses come in marriages and men have traditionally rationalized "excommunicating" their wives for generations. Otherwise, they would be living a double standard.

    Should it also be said that those who excommunicate with harsh cultural repercussions cause an individual to commit apostasy, just as those who put away their wives cause their wives to commit adultery? I doubt the local leaders would want to share the judgment of apostasy with those they push towards it. Just a thought along a certain line of reasoning. Again, others may entertain differing views.

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  6. Anonymous at 9:42am:

    &c is a once common, now archaic-seeming abbreviation for et cetera which now a days would be written as etc..

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  7. Okay, the questions about &c....I have been puzzling over it for 2 weeks.....I just figured it out. Sorry for the interruption.

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  8. Anonymous,

    I'd love to hear what you learned about the &c. I too have seen it but not understood it.

    Bruce

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  9. Zangs, when I was looking for a more zion or zion ready people outside the church last yr and ultimately was being rejected by my wife, church, family, friends for it... my bishop actually said to both of us that the church frowns on divorce, but whats important is happiness now (hinting we should just divorce). He didn't really care about the covenants we made with each other as I tried to point them out, nor did he come close to understanding the rules of marriage in the scriptures.

    Everyone likes to put down the man, but what happens when a wife fornicates her heart from the husband? She thinks your a oddball for wanting so much truth and righteousness. She thinks your just an apostate from the brethren and deserve being cast out and wants someone more like minded to her views. What if she wants nothing to do with the word zion or doing anything more than the church already has going? Don't forget, women have the choice to alienate themselves from and put away their husbands, and a man has to justly deal with that too.

    Don't forget, Joseph seemed to be sealing already married wives to others for eternity... seems it's a good thing to match up couples who want the celestial kingdom... but also follow strict guidelines.

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  10. I believe &c = etc===>et ceterea

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  11. Denver said “From the rebellion of Adam's children, through the almost universal rebellion at the time of Noah, mankind has been unwilling to become His people.”

    The whole history of the world, including Israel, the gentiles and the heathens, has shown an unwillingness for someone to become His people (few exptions, Enoch’s, melchzedek’s and 150 years of Nephits). Otherwise there has been no glory days on the earth. So I ask “why is the Lord’s plan this way?” It seems like a colossal failure. God makes man; man mostly rebels, God sends flood; great civilizations spring up; Abraham, Jacob and Moses begin or lead a group called the Lord’s people; they mostly act (not completely) as their gentile neighbors (Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans); God exiles or chastises them from time to time but they still end up rebelling; Christ comes to earth and sets up His church but it begins falling apart almost as soon as it begins. We have the dark ages, reformation and then the restoration among the gentile nations. The heathen nations have their own histories. The latter day church has always struggled producing God’s people. We do Ok (and sometimes great) but we still mostly look and act like Babylon. Although the Lord did say he was well pleased with the church collectively but not individually (which seems contrary of what we have been learning from these post, which is the church is full of gentiles and being led to error). (to continue)

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  12. So the whole plan of the Father seems odd. Why all the historic drama I mentioned with few celestial results. Oddly the only group of people (aside from the FEW humble followers of Christ) that seem to claim an inheritance to a celestial glory are those how die before the age of eight; which seems totally ironic because they didn’t need to follow the path Denver outlines in his book, they don’t make an Abrahamic covenant, so they basically make it on following a path of not using their agency, which is the very plan that Satan proposed we follow. Even if these children “passed the test” in the pre earth life, the mortal plan of God still seems odd. So I’m wondering why the Lord even set up this huge historic plan that has produced interesting history but few followers back to his presence. Is this some historic painting the Lord is producing which finally has a meaning someday; or has there always been a meaning (according to the plan) for each time and location in the worlds history? Think about it, it’s estimated that there have been 100 billion people born on the world since the days of Adam. We don’t know how many people belonged to Enoch’s and Melchizdek’s citys but let’s say a few or many million. Ancient Israel’s people didn’t accept the ordinances of the High priesthood so it is uncertain how many of them qualified for exaltation. The former day church baptized few to several million before it fell apart; and the latter day church has baptized around 20 million people but certainly not all have kept their covenants.

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  13. The history of the world indicates that we can safely say that at least 5 billion (probably more) children have died under the age of eight. So a quick summary indicates that several million people out of 100 billion have entered in the Lord’s covenant of baptism (it’s unknown how many actually kept the covenant) and at least 5 billion children receive a celestial crown without the struggles of life. Looking at this from this viewpoint, the Father’s plan doesn’t make sense. I can see why so many people drop religion all together. Of course we have baptism for the dead which indeed will save untold numbers of people, but will the numbers be any more than what the house of Israel has produced. Perhaps but that would mean that the post earth spirit world becomes a more important part of our probationary time than we are normally taught (which I’m not complaining about). So I have many “why” questions that have not been answered.
    But here’s the thing for me; something deep in side me says that it will all make sense to me someday. For me the Book of Mormon has always been the witness of God’s reality so I’ve decided to keep on the ride and enjoy all the things I do understand. I really love being a Mormon; it has done me good is many ways. I don’t judge those who feel differently about it than I do. Denver’s book “The Second Comforter” also has given me tremendous faith that the Father’s plan is real. His book (nor the BofM) doesn’t resolve all my questions, but his teachings and testimony give me faith that life’s journey has some eternal meaning. As Joseph said “faith comes from hearing the word of God from the testimonies of the servants of God.” I’m grateful that the Lord allowed one to bear perfect testimony and teach doctrine in a way that I’m excited to learn and actually feel my faith grow.

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  14. For those interested...Hugh Nibley's article, "Zion A Distant View" is worth reading:

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=75&chapid=928

    Especially this quote from Brigham Young in the same article:

    "They have not learned 'a' concerning Zion; and we have been traveling now forty-two years, and have we learned our a, b, c's? . . . I will say, scarcely. Have we seen it as a people? How long shall we travel, . . . how long shall God wait for us to sanctify ourselves and become one in the Lord, in our actions and in our ways for the building up of the kingdom of God, that he can bless us?" "How long, Latter-day Saints, before you will believe the Gospel as it is? The Lord has declared it to be his will that his people will enter into covenant, even as Enoch and his people did, which of necessity, must be before we shall have the privilege of building the Center Stake of Zion."

    Food for thought..
    Dave

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  15. John C,
    Something tells me that Denver's Ten Parables might be able to shed some light regarding your question/concern.

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  16. To Anonymous August 18, 2010 2:21 PM :

    The written record, in my opinion, is the public portion that deals with men and priesthood. The laws concerning women do not seem to be as public, but God is fair between both sexes. There is mention of the destruction of women that aren't pure in heart in D&C 132. Just because it goes unspoken doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or hasn't been kept in consideration. Justice doesn't seem to require it to be public necessarily.

    I'm sorry for the response you got that you mentioned. "Happiness now" doesn't seem to be the goal to me according to the Gospel. It all seems like a whole lot of mourning and a veil of tears in this world. Some leaders are anxious to relieve women from their covenants to pay lip-service to their demented view of things, and justify their corrupt hearts, rather than call them to repentance. What some men won't do for a pretty face, and that too of another man's wife! How careless we are we the souls of others!

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  17. To John C: I wonder if one earth is worth the exaltation of even just one of its inhabitants, or at least one meager family line of inhabitants. Even that would make the Gospel worth it. If it is strict, there is no use watering it down. Taking pleasure (or pain) in the truth as it stands is more comforting than worrying about the fairness of how many will make it or not. The idea that the whole earth could only produce one exalted man elevates the Gospel to a much higher and grander plain in my view. Then, consider we have a good hundred or so examples in the scriptures, if not thousands, who have achieved exaltation.

    What about the rest of us? It is merciful that we are allowed to do almost whatever we please and dwell here on the face of an earth that doesn't belong to us, so why are we complaining? We are also offered an inheritance if we qualify for the strict guidelines of the exalted men and women for whom this earth was made and intended for. Even better bonus. If we don't avail ourselves of the opportunity to inherit it, how is that unfair? We will be sent somewhere else. We don't belong here anyway.

    Perhaps that thought will break some hearts, but then that is one of the first requirements for an inheritance anyway, so we're on to something here...

    But this much is true: we have all sinned and forfeited our claim on this earth, if we had any, and without being restored or adopted into an inheritance, we own nothing. What right do we have to talk about unfairness? Being born here grants us nothing after we sin. Little children have no sin, so their inheritance has never been lost, if they had an inheritance before coming here. You probably have no clue as to what they did before they came here to lay claim upon this earth.

    Our thoughts should be, God created this earth for His pleasure, and has bequeathed it to His Only Begotten Son, and the Son has interceded on behalf of those whom the Father has given Him. Unless we are a part of that group, we must consider they can do as they please, and do it however they want to do it, without reference to our input in any way on the matter. We must bow down and worship Them, and if we return with nothing from it, bow down and worship all the more. It is Their house. That's where we start, and let Them dictate the rest for our case and bow the knee again. We will all end up bowing sooner or later anyway, why not sooner?

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  18. ...There is so much talk about God being nice and loving, etc. Why not see if He will deal so with us as individuals? He is a King, and this is His realm. He has let evil have a place here. He has also let good have its influence. He will cause the good to prevail and sweep off the bad. Let us not judge Him and instead test the claims that He is a righteous, kind, and loving Person and petition for our own entrance into His kingdom. And petition and petition and petition and petition until we find out we have got entrance. If we do not like how He runs His own kingdom, why we can go somewhere else where there is no kingdom at all if we choose, and so on and so on running away from Him while He conquers more domains and squeezes across the universe pushing us out of every place we crawl to. It is true, we may live like that if we please, but I wouldn't call that living.

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  19. Zang Family: I never mentioned nor did I complain that God was unfair. I’m not looking to be preached at or insinuate that I’m judging God. I’m searching to understand the reasons behind why God does the things he does in this great big world. Your words may be well intended but don't address the intent of my comments. I know there are answers. I appreciated the suggestion from one reader that I read the book “The Ten Parables”.

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  20. Fair enough, John C. My mistake. I sometimes still like to get thoughts out there, even if the people I address never intended to mean what I think they mean. There's not much else to do in blog commenting. I'm willing to take the risks of misunderstanding intent in order to get important thoughts out there and make amends afterward. A bit reckless, I know, but as my own rough corners get worn down, I'll offend less and less. I always include myself in the reproofs.

    But on the other hand, our bodies complain even if we don't recognize it. The thoughts I wrote I think are useful because none of us can claim we are free of complaint against the realities of God owning this world and doing His pleasure with it: it is the natural man.

    I wonder if you can take what I wrote in a spirit of friendship, as it is offered, and contemplate the brutal truth with me, and find the true silver lining together. To quote the comment form, "What say you?"

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  21. I am not interested in accusing people, I just find it useful to sound that way to try and push buttons to see if people's sensitivities are ruffled by certain topics. I am mocking the adversary.

    We must all use the litmus test of knowing for ourselves that the devil doesn't make us upset anymore. Do you follow?

    I am coming right out in the light with what I am putting forth, so it can be seen for what it is, and I'm not afraid of the consequences. The devil uses these methods while hiding in the dark and getting us upset without us knowing how.

    What I say must be taken in the context of knowing my intent is reconciliation. Sometimes one must poke around to see where the wound really is before one can apply the bandage. Inevitably, the patient says "Ouch!" (That's not saying I'm any special physician, but because you put out the fact that you had a lack of something and couldn't put your finger on it, and implied you wouldn't mind help...so I tried to put my finger on it). Also, on the blog, poking around for the wound is harder to do. More extreme methods are sometimes required. Remember when Joseph Smith purposely chastised Brigham Young up and down for something he knew Brigham didn't do just to see his response? Check out the story in Truman Madsen's lectures on the Prophet. Again, I don't pretend to do it as good as Joseph. If anything, I am less virulent as he was.

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  22. Also, sometimes I am a blazing hypocrite and I don't mind letting myself have a little rope to hang my hypocrite self with. It is like watching how my own self is reacting to certain things and then knowing what ails my own soul. I find out what I need to pray for mercy on next. If I expose myself to people that are bent on justice (not necessarily you), then they will very quickly tell me what penalties I face which can help me get my broken heart. That way I don't have to study justice myself ;-)

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  23. Zang Family: I have to smile from reading your last remarks. You said "fair enough". I take that as an extended arm of personal friendship. I wont let such an arm be extended in vein. The post members have different takes which can be enlighting and helpful sometimes. The common theme is that we were attracted to a whole new way of thinking about the gospel from the testimony and insights of Denver. Denver said his blog is an experiment to see if this type of approach (using a blog) will work. I hope it does and that all readers can feel good about making remarks in the spirit meant for this blog.

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  24. John C: It's nice to be dealt with kindly. Thanks. What do you think of the thought that this earth would be worth its purpose if even just one exalted family line were established? For all my previous posts on grace, and how the power of the Lord completely sustains us through the whole process, which is easy, yet burdensome, does it strike anyone else as odd that the Lord declares "few there be that find it"?

    I suggest we are afraid of the power that is planted within us, and we choke the word. But it is as easy for a seed to grow into its tree and bear fruit as it is to let nature perform its miracles, given the right conditions...will we let ourselves grow, or put up stakes and say no further will we go?

    -Brian

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  25. Let me also say this: I don't know yet if I'm going to make it through and be exalted. The ordinances present wonderful possibilities. The grand injunction for faithfulness seems monumental. I don't think I'd want it any way else. I expect myself to have the kind of faith that calls forth an equally monumental miracle from the Lord that enables me to achieve the goal of exaltation. The journey ought to be that intense. Otherwise, I think it would be weak and undesirable. I know I don't have that kind of faith now. Only tiny faith moves mountains, it takes exceedingly great faith to save your own soul. The comparison ought not be lost on us. This is high adventure, not flimsy shaking of hands. We must be grasped in such a way that we will not slip free from the Savior's grip to pull us through this intense veil of darkness and hell and abomination. If only Abraham and others make it through, I am duty bound to exclaim they have won the fight, and rejoice that I can see what it took to achieve this greatest of gifts. I want it to be that strait and narrow of a course because it makes it something worth striving for. Let us awake to this awful reality with courage to face the decree of how far away from the goal we may really be, then shoulder up for the journey and be diligent until we win the prize. This is no weekend warfare. Yet again, it is easy. What a dichotomy! The only danger is giving up the fight!

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  26. Zang Family: You asked me my thoughts of if it is worth if for the Lord to save one family line. If the Lord can just save one family line or even one person in this world then it is worth it, but I’d still be wondering why more weren’t. This subject certainly was thought about and revealed by Moroni as he finished his mortal days in loneliness. He asked us if God’s work would cease if “there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved (Mor 7:36)” His reply “Nay”. Interesting Mormon probably knew he may have been the only man on the earth at the time that would receive a celestial salvation (discounting the eventual salvation of those who accept/receive the fullness from proxy baptisms). So yes it’s worth it. But that’s not the complete story that I’m looking for. He buried the gold plates that the covenant of the Lord would be fulfilled that others would be saved. Joseph told us that God stood in the midst of intelligences and wanted them to have the glory he had obtained (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the quote in front of me). His desire would be to have a plan that would save as many as He could in the celestial realms. I could go on but I won’t. I’m letting all this new perspective from Denver’s books/blog settle into my thinking (I’m just a damned Gentile; nooooooo). I’ll keep on this path of discovery and see what happens. The answers will come. Thanks for your interest in sharing with me.

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  27. Hi John C, well said. God bless you in your efforts.

    For others here, John's search brings up an interesting question: let's assume God wishes the plan to succeed for as many children as possible, yet reality is very few achieve it on this earth. Of those who failed in any degree, and they being eternal beings, what will be their status 30 billion trillion years (as we count them) later? Are they consistently terrestrial or telestial beings for that long of a duration due to a failure within 100 years or so of this earth life? Are we so sure that is what we teach as the whole picture?

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